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The story of ENGin volunteer Robert: 8 students, a trip to Ukraine, and family coziness with his buddies

Robert's journey with ENGin began two years ago, in May 2022, when he first connected with his buddies. What started as a way to lend a helping hand, quickly turned into a passion that filled his life with new purpose and drive.


ENGin volunteer Robert with his 8 students in his trip to Ukraine

Robert is a veteran and a retired restaurant manager who began teaching English to recent immigrants in Texas about three years ago. His encounter with several Ukrainian refugees sparked a desire to do more, leading him to discover ENGin.


Robert’s approach to volunteering is all about connection and engagement. He looks forward to every conversation with his buddies, whether they prefer discussing prepared topics or engaging in free-flowing conversations. Each interaction is interesting and fun, making the time spent together fly by.


The impact of these conversations has been profound. Robert has witnessed significant improvements in the conversational skills of all his students. Some have even advanced their careers as their English improved. During a visit to Ukraine, Robert saw firsthand how immersion — going from 60 minutes of English per week to 13 hours a day — boosted his buddies' skills. The transformation was remarkable.


“I assumed I would have one student and improve my teaching skills. After meeting my first buddy, I immediately requested a second, then a third, and so on until I had eight. ENGin and my buddies have given me new purpose and drive in my life.”
ENGin volunteer Robert with his student Oksana in Krakow
ENGin volunteer Robert with his student Kate in Lutsk

Robert decided to make the trip to Ukraine nearly two years into his volunteering with ENGin. His buddy Oksana met him in Krakow and traveled with him to her hometown in Rivne. Buddy Kate took the train from Lutsk to spend the day in the city center. Robert planned to stay through May to meet all his buddies, experiencing the warmth and hospitality of their families.


ENGin volunteer Robert with his students Olga and Ira

“I met with my buddies Olga and Ira. A great 3 days in Rivne.”
ENGin volunteer Robert with his student Greg in Kyiv

Robert continued his journey, meeting buddy Greg in Kyiv. He met Anna, an ENGin buddy he had spoken with for 1 year and 10 months, and Oleg, a friend of Anna's who had joined their conversations a year ago.

ENGin volunteer Robert with his student Yulia and her family in Brovary
“Yesterday, I met with my buddy Yulia and her family. The weather was perfect in Brovary, and we had a great time. If you come to Ukraine, be prepared to eat. The food is great, and grandmothers love to feed you. I was in a Borscht coma by the end of the day!”
ENGin volunteer Robert with his student Nastiya in Kyiv

Robert also met with Nastiya in Kyiv, combining their conversation with a stroll through Podil. They had been speaking weekly for nearly two years, and Robert was thrilled to see her career take off, with English playing a significant part in it.


Visiting his students in Ukraine was a life-changing experience. Each visit felt like reuniting with family. Buddies invited Robert to stay with their families, offering a deeper cultural exchange.


“In some cases, I was made to feel that I was part of the family. I am so grateful to my buddies who asked me to stay with their families and avoid hotel stays.”

ENGin volunteer Robert with his student Viktoriia in Dnipro

One particularly touching reunion was with Victoriia, his first ENGin student and a significant reason he chose to take on more buddies. Living in Chuhuiv, she felt it was too dangerous for Robert to visit her region, so she took a five-hour bus ride to Dnipro to meet him. This effort highlighted the deep connections formed through their conversations. Victoriia often works as a translator and has impressive English skills.


Robert’s journey wasn’t just about fun and games. He volunteered in a small village for five weeks, making his visits on weekends. He experienced the reality of air alarms ringing out quite often and hearing explosions on three occasions. Despite these challenges, Robert was inspired by the resilience of his friends who carried on, living each day to the fullest.


“It’s not all fun and games, of course. The air alarms ring out quite often and a full night’s sleep is rare. I have heard explosions on 3 occasions and it is shocking. Your brain doesn’t want to accept the truth. However, my friends carry on, and every day is a new day to be lived.”

Robert’s story exemplifies the incredible impact that ENGin volunteers can have. Through dedication, compassion, and a love for teaching, Robert has made a significant difference in the lives of his students and in his own life as well. He hopes to return to Ukraine someday, continuing the journey of connection and learning that has become such a vital part of his life.


Are you inspired by Robert's story? Join ENGin as a volunteer and make a difference in the lives of Ukrainians while experiencing personal growth and fulfillment. Whether you have teaching experience or simply a passion for helping others, ENGin offers a unique opportunity to create meaningful connections and impact lives. Sign up today and become part of this incredible journey!



3 Comments

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Guest
4 days ago
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Such a great volunteer and the story- breathtaking!

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Guest
5 days ago
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for the hard work and inspiration

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Guest
May 27
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

So touching

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